Man United’s Phil Jones still has plenty to prove at Old Trafford
Sharethematch.com takes a look Phil Jones' latest injury setback and whether his absence could benefit Manchester United
Manchester United confirmed Phil Jones is facing an eight-week lay-off after surgery on a cartilage tear in his knee on Saturday.
Jones’ latest injury setback raises two questions: will his return come too late for Manchester United’s title bid? And, does he represent part of the solution at Old Trafford anyway?
Jones had nearly recovered from a back injury sustained in pre-season when the latest set-back occurred in training, and Sir Alex Ferguson hopes to have him available for selection by the time United face Arsenal at the beginning of November.
So far this season, even the most hardened Red Devils fans would agree the performances of new signing Robin van Persie are the only reason United have not lost more than once.
His single-handed rescue effort against Southampton ensured they remain in a strong position after three games. Admittedly, it is still early days but it does not take many sloppy away defeats to render a title bid redundant, as Arsenal supporters will testify.
United simply do not lose these fixtures. Or do they? This season, the unthinkable may just be creeping into people’s minds – are United cemented in the top two by default?
History would suggest yes, but there is a sneaking suspicion the squad that began this season can be beaten, and more than once or twice for that matter.
Admittedly, defensive woes, including the loss of Jones, have forced Ferguson into fielding a makeshift backline featuring Antonio Valencia at right-back and Michael Carrick at centre-half.
But with Nemanja Vidic fit again, United fans can take some solace that things may be getting back to normal.
However, the partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic is far from assured, as both have had lengthy injury lay-offs in the last couple of years.
With such a long time out, can Jones provide the solidity United so desperately need should either of these United legends get crocked again soon?
Ferguson will be hoping he can, just like he is hoping for the likes of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck to graduate into bona fide Premier League stars in the same way as Paul Scholes and the rest of the fledglings did all those years ago.
The problem is that Jones’ maturation into that senior first-team member is not so definite. Though able to play in various roles, he has made too many silly mistakes and shown too many lapses of judgement so far to justify his price tag and significant hype.
The hope is that he will iron these out to become a key man in United’s title bid this year but there will be little margin for error when he returns and United simply can’t afford to slip up.